Welcome to Sex Ed. for Self-Advocates!

This guide is a sexuality and sex education resource written specifically for people on the autism spectrum age 15 and up. People on the autism spectrum sometimes don’t have the chance to learn about sexuality and sex in ways that work for them, so OAR created this guide as a starting point to change that. 

In each of the nine sections of the guide, self-advocates will be able to read articles and watch brief videos before testing their knowledge about a given topic and practicing new skills.

There’s a lot to learn about these topics – more than we could fit in just this guide. You can use this information as a starting point for learning more about relationships and sexuality, keeping in mind that learning about sexuality and relationships is a lifelong process!

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Click here to listen to this resource as a podcast.

What do you want to learn about?


Public versus Private

In this section, we will discuss the difference between public, semi-public, semi-private, and private places and what conversations, personal information, and behaviors are appropriate in each type of place.



In this section, we will explain what puberty is, describe related body parts, and discuss how bodies and brains change during puberty through hormonal changes, and how the reproductive system works.


Healthy Relationships

In this section, we will discuss various types of relationships, the differences between appropriate and inappropriate relationships, and how to recognize healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.



In this section, you will learn about boundaries, what ``consent`` is, how to know if someone is able to consent, and how to say ``no`` or respond to ``no.``


Dating 101

In this section, we will discuss crushes, flirting, asking people on dates, going on dates, being in a relationship, and ending a relationship.


Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

In this section, we will explain sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, LGBTQ resources, coming out, and homophobia and transphobia.


Am I Ready?

In this section, you will learn to recognize what your personal values are about sex, how they are shaped, how to determine whether you are ready to have sex for the first time, and some reasons why you should or should not have sex.


Sexual Activity

In this section, we will discuss the basics of what sex is, why and when people have sex, how people talk about sex, and how to communicate sexual and autism-specific needs with partners.


Online Relationships and Safety

In this section, you will learn about what information is safe to share online and how to manage it, online dating and friendships, and how to deal with negative interactions.


Sex Ed. Guide for Self-Advocates would have not been possible without the many voices that contributed and provided feedback throughout the project.

OAR offers special thanks to the content experts who contributed their writing to this resource, including Jessica Penwell Barnett, Ph.D. (Sexual Activity section), Laura Graham Holmes, Ph.D. (Online Relationships and Safety section), Katherine McLaughlin, M.Ed. CSE (Puberty section), Robin Moyher, Ph.D. (Healthy Relationships and Consent sections), John Strang, Ph.D. (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity section), and Jiaqi Zhou and Joanne Davila, Ph.D. (Dating section).

Further thanks goes to Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D., and Amy Gravino, M.A., for their consultation on the resource and work in creating the videos appearing throughout the site. We also thank Brittney Brundage for her original illustrations for the resource, Amy Gahran for the use of the relationship escalator, and Chrissy M. Etienne for use of language in the crushes section.

OAR also thanks Cristina James, Melissa Keyes DiGioia, CSE, and Monique N. Colclough, Ph.D., for their time and efforts in reviewing the guide prior to publication.

Finally, OAR wishes to thank its project team:

  • Keygan Miller, M.Ed., and OAR Intern, who contributed to writing, creating graphics, editing, and uploading the content to the site. Additionally, Summer and Fall 2018 interns Lindsey Siff, Alyssa Grzesiak, and Emma Lacombe worked to design the site, locate graphics, and upload content.
  • Saman Kamgar-Parsi, OAR Senior Programs Associate and project lead, who wrote, edited, and collected content, coordinated interns, and ensured the site’s content was loaded and complete before being launched.
  • Kimberly Ha, OAR’s Director of Research and Programs, who wrote, edited, and provided feedback on content and throughout the project to ensure its successful completion.
  • Sophie Thurschwell, OAR Intern, who narrated and helped edit the audio version of the guide.
  • Corinne Gambacurta, OAR Intern, who edited the audio version of the guide and assisted with uploading content to the site.
  • Margaret Gorman, OAR’s Programs and Outreach Associate, who assisted with reviewing and uploading content for the audio guide.

Information found on OAR’s Sex Ed. for Self-Advocates website, related videos, resources, and links are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Users of the site should consult with a physician or other health care provider to discuss specific concerns if they require further information or clarity.